This time, the weather looked more settled and I decided to do a "classic" Scottish MTB route - Bridge of Orchy to Loch Etive via Glen Kinglass. By way of an warm-up I headed off up the West Highland Way from Tyndrum. I was aware that the evening was going to be cold and had dressed accordingly but the lovely warm sunshine was already making me pay for it as the track first heads uphill. I was also on the Fatbike and finding the big knobby tyres at only 12psi pretty hard work.
Once off the old road, the big tyres did make light work of the rocky section though it was very slippy going under the cattle creep and then I had to lift the whole bike and gear over the fence.
Back on the old road, I was soon down at Bridge of Orchy and then facing the climb up to Mam Carraigh. I can't help but feel that the gaelic speaker who named this high pass had a sense for a good pun as my legs gave in and I was reduced to pushing for a short while. Soon enough though, I broke out of the forest and could really appreciate the height gained for the wonderful views it provided.
|Time for a wee breather|
|The stepping stones were a lovely surprise|
|The route ahead goes thataway....|
|Needing some work I think|
|I just happened to have the camera in my hand when this young deer ran out in front of me|
From here, the trail improved yet again and I decided to press on to reach the side of Loch Etive before camping.
|Getting dark now|
It was a bit of a relief to catch my first glimpse of the loch and I decided to head uphill a little before pitching the tent. I reckoned that with such a still night, the cold air would slip down to the valley floor and I wanted to avoid the worst of this. I found an old section of dyke with enough flat ground beside it to fit in my small tent and soon had it pitched. I took the precaution of clearing away all the old, dry grass from the front of the tent and found a flat rock to set my stove on. I know how easy it is to start a grass fire and the two I'd already seen were warning enough. One miscalculation I had made was in not having enough water with me. I'd drunk more than I had realised and at this height there was no running water at all - all had frozen solid. Still, the malt whisky would be fine without....
|Would you like ice with that whisky?|
|Orion over Cruachan|
By the time I'd eaten and settled in for the night I was quite cosy and slept well until around 2:30 when I was awoken by the sound of barking. It was far too close to be any sort of estate dog so I can only assume it was a fox giving something a hard time. I popped my head out of the tent, hoping for a nice moon but it had clouded over.
|Morning at Loch Etive|
|Bonawe Furnace - worth a visit|
Another fabulous run and a route I'd repeat as a one-day option some time.
Now then - maybe I should plan the March bivi night soon?